Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

1 hour ago

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

5 hours ago
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Alone Among The Stars, For Now

Oct 16, 2013
Originally published on October 16, 2013 5:18 pm

Our solar system is almost 5 billion years old (4.6, really) and we haven't yet had any indication that there are other forms of life in the cosmos, especially intelligent ones.

That's the perspective of a new book by science journalist Lee Billings titled Five Billion Years of Solitude, a nod to the Gabriel García Márquez masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. Billings constructs a moving tale of our collective yearning to find companionship in the vastness of space, using interviews with a few of the key players in the search for intelligent life (such as SETI's Frank Drake) and exoplanet hunting (such as MIT's Sara Seager, who just received a MacArthur award) as a means to humanize the story.

If we are alone, or if life is rare, we must be the protectors of life and take charge to preserve it at all costs, possibly spreading it to other planetary platforms. If nothing else, we know our sun will end its existence in under 5 billion years and that it will take Earth and life here with it. Assuming we, or our distant descendants, will still be here then, perhaps more machine than flesh, the only way to preserve our legacy is to go elsewhere. There is thus a firm deadline for leaving, even if it sits on the far horizon.

As I wrote in A Tear at the Edge of Creation, the study of life on Earth implies that we are unique. There are no other humans out there, even if there may be life. The history of life on a planet mirrors the history of the planet. This means that the particulars, the specific cataclysmic events that happened over the eons, the shuffling of the atmospheric composition, the shifting of the magnetic field, the nature of the planet's moons (or moon), all these are key factors on how life would evolve. Life here had to jump over many hoops to get to where it is today, hoops that are far from being trivial either biochemically or biologically.

This means that in spite of our efforts to find life elsewhere (and we will find it only if we look), life here becomes something of a rare gem that must be worshipped and preserved at all costs. Whatever lies out there, we must focus our efforts in preserving what we have here. We live on a magic planet. Even if there may be other magic planets in the vastness of space, for us everything starts with this one. Let us not forget this simple lesson as we look up in search of companionship.

You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

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